Tom Paxton is a veteran of the early-60s Greenwich Village folk explosion, but he's never found himself trapped in the notorious folkie pitfalls of preciousness or overearnestness. Paxton's social commentaries--from the haunting eco-parable "Whose Garden Was This" to the harrowingly contemporary "On the Road From Srebrenica"--combine realism, righteous outrage, and fearlessness; he's willing to immerse himself in the terror of modern life so he may envision paths that might lead us out of the darkness. Paxton's knack for saying exactly what he means might strike some as hopelessly anomalous in this pomo age; listeners of a more radical bent may chafe at his worldview, which sometimes seems like nothing more than obligatorily scruffy white-bread liberalism. He waxes nostalgic for Jimmy Carter, defends Hillary Clinton, and seldom seems to acknowledge--let alone celebrate--the values and experiences of nonwhite or non-First World people. But his love songs and children's ditties are among the most sublime--and his wit is among the most acerbic--in the modern folk tradition. Paxton headlines a hootenanny (see listing) to celebrate the Old Town School's 40th anniversary. Friday and Saturday, 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage; 773-525-7793. DAVID WHITEIS
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo by McIntyre Photography.